Palm Beach Gardens Fire Rescue
Health & Wellness

8 Ways to Eat More Vegetables

Everyone knows that we need to eat more vegetables. But that can take a lot of work to execute as a first responder. You might fill up your cart with veggies at the beginning of the week, only to be stuck with rotten, uneaten produce at the end of the week. The ideas below will help you use the veggies purchased without adding a ton of prep time

Tips for increasing vegetable intake

  1. Add a handful of pre-shredded coleslaw veggies into wraps or stir fry.
    1. Coleslaw veggies are cheap, pre-cut, and add great texture to wraps. Try the Buffalo Chicken Wraps.
  2. Add ¼ cup of cauliflower rice to ¾ cup of rice.
    1. Frozen cauliflower rice is inexpensive and quick to heat. Cauliflower rice will never replace white rice, but adding a scoop can add fiber back to white rice without losing its texture. 
  3. Pack celery/carrots with hummus and pretzel chips as a snack.
  4. Add a handful of spinach to smoothies.
    1. Yes, this will turn the smoothie green. But you will not taste it if you include a flavored protein powder or low-sugar Greek yogurt.
  5. Chop up a fresh salsa (or grab one from the store).
  6. Keep frozen vegetables in your freezer. Mixed veggies can be tossed in a stir fry and frozen spinach blends well into smoothies.
  7. Stretch out pasta dishes with chopped onions, peppers, or canned diced tomatoes.
    1. The Cajun Chicken Pasta is a delicious option for this.
  8. Make an exciting salad.
    1. No, this isn’t your traditional firehouse iceberg lettuce salad. An exciting salad has various greens, fruits, nuts, and cheese tossed in a well-made vinaigrette. This is a salad you would enjoy and want to eat more of. Check out the Strawberry Spinach Salad, the Margarita Salad, or the Cucumber Tomato Salad.

Do vegetable (greens) powders count?

Many first responders are turning to greens or vegetable powders to “replace” their daily veggie intake. While the marketing for these products sounds promising, getting 2-3 cups of veggies daily should still be the priority. Veggies have more water, fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants than powders. However, these powders may help fill some nutritional gaps and can be treated like a multivitamin. Multivitamins are often cheaper, with some powders costing over $100 for a month-long supply.

If you want to spend extra money on greens powders, confirm that they are third-party tested or certified (ex., Informed Choice or NSF Sport). This will help ensure that the powders have what the label states are in it. Please stick to the serving size; more is not always better when it comes to supplements.

How many vegetables should I eat per day?

According to the USDA, adults should eat 2-3 cups of vegetables daily. This can include a variety of vegetables such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, root vegetables, and more. Eating a balanced diet consisting of various colorful vegetables can provide your body with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to support overall health and wellness. These are essential for recovery from shiftwork, optimizing energy, and preventing disease. Fresh, frozen, and canned veggies all count towards this goal!

Megan Lautz, MS, RD, CSCS, TSAC-F

Megan is a Registered Dietitian and coach who specializes in firefighter nutrition. Megan’s mission is to help firefighters perform better, recover faster, and enjoy long, healthy retirements. Megan is the owner of RescueRD LLC, which provides nutrition seminars and coaching for tactical athletes across the country. Check out @Rescue.RD on Facebook and Instagram.

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